Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
SYFY WIRE Interviews

Did you catch that hidden 'Lord of the Rings' reference on 'Star Trek: Prodigy'?

One of the most iconic moments from Peter Jackson's LOTR trilogy beams to the Final Frontier.

By Phil Pirrello
Star Trek Prodigy Cast

Star Trek and Lord of the Rings fans are getting a very, very mini-crossover of sorts this week.

The newest episode of Paramount + and Nickelodeon’s hit animated series Star Trek: Prodigy offers a not-so-subtle reference to an iconic shot from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring from the scene where Frodo (Elijah Wood), Sam (Sean Astin) and the rest of his Hobbit pals hide under a tree root to escape the clutches of an approaching Ring wraith. Prodigy’s “Terror Firma” pays homage to the scene when our heroes Dal, Gwyn and the rest of the young and in-over-their-heads crew of the Protostar find similar cover on a sentient planet, under a thick collection of writhing vines, as they evade the sinister robot, Drednok.

“Terror Firma” picks up directly where the previous installment, “Starstruck,” left off — with Dal and his crew stranded on a “murder planet” trying to ingest them, which hologram Captain Janeway struggles to save their shiny starship from the planet’s unstoppable vines. SYFY WIRE recently interviewed the writers of this exciting cliffhanger, sisters Julie and Shawna Benson, about how this nod to Jackson’s modern classic found its way into their episode and they were kind of just as surprised to see it as we were.

“I wish we could take full credit for that,” Julie said. “I believe that was maybe a director’s special [inclusion] there.”

“I remember a version [of the script] where we had the vines covering over Rok-Tahk, kind of like how they covered her with the small, cute animals in [“Starstruck”], and they hid that way,” Shawna added.

Both writers were very impressed with how the shot evolved from animatics into the final product, especially given that what they originally had written in their script was merely: “They hide.” Check out an exclusive clip below from the episode: 

Another Easter Egg in the episode, in this case from Trek’s history, is the brief appearance of a downed Klingon Bird-of-Prey.  For the writers, the appearance of the iconic ship is a nod to both previous Star Trek and to their work in DC Comics.

“Having written for Birds of Prey,” Julie explains, “we thought it was sort of a wink at that story and having our ‘birds of prey’ in there.”

The inclusion of the ship, along with the LOTR visual reference, are more than just fandom navel gazing, they are also key visual moments that push story and character.

“We just love Klingons,” Julie said. “We didn’t want to introduce them sort of like — all of a sudden you see a Klingon ship and go ‘how is that here, in the Delta Quadrant?’ But if we had this sort of alien ship that our heroes find on this planet, that is abandoned — like how in the movie Alien, Ripley and her crew find their alien ship — then we could use that to help reveal some character beats. And it also sort of raises the stakes, as Gwyn says later, like, if Klingon warriors couldn’t get off this planet, that doesn’t really bode well for us.”

Too bad Prodigy’s heroes didn’t find on this planet an Aragorn to help them.

We’ll have more with the Benson sisters about the making of “Terror Firma” this week. New episodes of Prodigy air Thursdays on Paramount +.